Netflix and Instagram Partner for ‘Wanna Talk About It’ Live Q&As During Pandemic

Netflix and Instagram have partnered to create a live Q&A series called “Wanna Talk About It,” featuring young Netflix stars discussing how to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Instagram series, which starts April 9 at 4 p.m.PST/7 p.m. EST live from @netflix, will feature stars of some of Netflix’s popular young adult content “talking about taking care of yourself during a global pandemic,” according to a Netflix release.

The series will run every Thursday through May 14.

Participating stars, including Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Joey King (The Kissing Booth), Ross Butler (“13 Reasons Why”), Caleb McLaughlin (“Stranger Things”), Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Jerry Harris (“Cheer”), and Alisha Boe (“13 Reasons Why”), will go live from @netflix on Instagram to talk with mental health experts from organizations including National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America, The Trevor Project, Crisis Text Line and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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The young stars will discuss the questions and challenges young people are facing during the COVID-19 global pandemic, covering topics such as: what helps if you’re having trouble sleeping? how do you stay connected during social distancing? how do we manage anxiety? and what self-care means

The first Instagram Live will launch on @netflix with Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) in conversation with Dr. Ken Duckworth, Chief Medical Officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on self-care.

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Viewers can follow @netflix on Instagram for more details on the upcoming events throughout the month.

Watch the trailer here.

Sling TV Offering 14 Days of Sling Blue for Free

Sling TV has opened its Sling Blue service to consumers for 14 days at no charge (through April 5) as a public service.

Sling TV’s Blue service offers more than 45 live channels, free cloud DVR, more than 50,000 on-demand titles, and allows simultaneous viewing on three screens. It features news channels including CNN, Fox News, HLN, MSNBC, Bloomberg TV, Cheddar News, Newsy and Local Now.

“With more states and municipalities issuing shelter-in-place orders, everyone needs the latest information to do their part,” Warren Schlichting, group president of Sling TV, said in a statement. “We’re hoping to motivate Americans to stay home, and stay informed during this critical time.”

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As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, television news consumption on Sling TV has climbed by triple digits over the last month, according to the service. Since Feb. 24, Sling TV’s viewership of top news channels increased by 121 percent.

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“Now more than ever American’s are anxious to stay up to date, and no other streaming service offers the depth of live news available on SLING Blue,” said Schlichting in a statement.

The offer is part of Sling TV’s “Stay in & Sling” initiative launched last week.

Hulu Launches Free 24/7 Stream of ABC News Live to On-Demand Subscribers

Hulu has partnered with ABC News Live to bring the channel’s 24/7 live coverage to Hulu and Disney billed on-demand subscribers.

“More than 45 percent of Hulu viewers have either cut the cord or never had cable, and may not have access to live, televised news to receive critical information during times of national crisis,” according to a Hulu release. “Given the rapidly-evolving situation around COVID-19, and to ensure that our viewers can stay informed during this time, we’re partnering with ABC News Live to bring the channel’s 24/7 live coverage to Hulu and Disney billed on-demand subscribers as part of their subscription.”

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Beginning March 20, subscribers to Hulu’s ad-supported and Hulu (no ads) plans can access the ABC News Live stream by visiting the “Hulu Picks” collection.

“With this live stream, we aim to keep our viewers informed during this unprecedented time when having access to information is vital to our communities,” read the Hulu release.

 

Sling TV Markets Service With ‘National Cut the Cord Day,’ Discounts

Sling TV announced Feb. 9 is National Cut the Cord Day, to commemorate the service’s fifth anniversary and as part of a five-day celebration with deals available on sling.com Feb. 7-11.

New and returning customers can sign up for one month of discounted Sling TV for $5.

“For the past five years, we’ve been dedicated to making live TV streaming simple, easy and affordable — helping Americans save $1.2 billion through cord-cutting,” said Warren Schlichting, Sling TV group president, in a statement. “National Cut the Cord Day is designed to take away any excuse to cling to cable. We want to help future Slingers find out how easy it is to cut the cord and get started on Sling TV.”

Sling users start with a base service, plus 10 hours of free Cloud DVR ($30 per month), and select any “Extras” they need (starting at $5 each). Users can also add on-demand content from other subscription video on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu, as well as an over-the-air antenna (OTA) for free access to local broadcast channels.

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“Sling TV has pioneered cord-cutting by giving customers only the channels they want and the ability to integrate local channels into the interface for free, saving hundreds of dollars from their cable bill,” Schlichting said in a statement. “So while making the leap from cable to live TV streaming may feel a little daunting at first, it’s easier than you think, and absolutely worth it. Not only is it incredibly easy to get the most popular channels on your favorite devices, Sling TV seamlessly integrates your free local channels for a whole-home solution, when paired with an OTA antenna and AirTV.”

Cut the Cord Day offers include:

  • the first month of Sling Orange for $5 (originally $30), giving subscribers 30-plus channels with one single stream, including ESPN, Disney Channel, A&E, TNT, HGTV, CNN, TBS, Food Network, Lifetime and Freeform;
  • the first month of Sling Blue for $5 (originally $30), giving subscribers 40-plus channels with three simultaneous streams, including FOX (select markets), NBC (select markets), USA, Bravo, TLC, FX, Fox News and Comedy Central; and
  • the first month of Sling Orange and Sling Blue for $20 (originally $45), giving subscribers both services for 50-plus channels and four simultaneous streams.

Sling TV is also offering new customers a Cord Cutter Bundle to provide full integration of free locals via an OTA antenna, including an AirTV 2, AirTV Mini and OTA antenna for $5 when prepaying for three months of either Sling Orange or Sling Blue at full price (originally $99).

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The registrar at National Day Calendar declared National Cut the Cord Day to be observed on Feb. 9, annually, memorializing Sling TV as the first streaming service to deliver live television over-the-top since its Feb. 9, 2015 debut, according to a Sling press release.

As part of National Cut the Cord Day, Sling TV created a Cord Cutter Hotline (855-553-2862) to support people who are thinking about cutting the cord.

 

Sony to Shutter PlayStation Vue

Sony Interactive Entertainment announced in a blog post that it would be shutting down its PlayStation Vue live TV streaming service on Jan. 30, 2020.

“Unfortunately, the highly competitive pay-TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected,” read the blog from deputy president John Kodera. “Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.”

The service launched more than four years ago.

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“PlayStation fans can continue to access movie and TV content through the PlayStation Store on PS4 and via our partnerships with top entertainment apps,” read the blog. “With 100 million PlayStation 4s in the market today, our community continues to grow and thrive. We will continue to deliver the best entertainment experiences across the network, along with other key gaming services, including PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus.

“We are very proud of what PlayStation Vue was able to accomplish. We had ambitious goals for how our service could change how people watch TV, showcasing PlayStation’s ability to innovate in a brand-new category within the Pay TV industry. We want to thank all of our customers, some of whom have been with us since PlayStation Vue’s launch in 2015.”

Sony reportedly had been looking for a buyer for the service, with roughly half a million subscribers and plans starting at around $50 a month.

NBC Sports: Super Bowl, Soccer, Winter Olympics Drove Record 2018 Digital Streaming Year

On the strength of live streaming three of the biggest sporting events in the world — Super Bowl LII, the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and Spanish-language coverage of the FIFA World Cup  — NBC Sports Digital delivered its best year ever in 2018.

The year is highlighted by 6.5 billion minutes of consumption for more than 90,000 hours of streaming coverage across more than 30,000 events. The year also set new streaming records for “Sunday Night Football,” the Stanley Cup Final, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Premier League, Notre Dame Football, the Triple Crown, and the NASCAR Cup Series, as well as regional streaming records for MLB, NBA, and NHL.

In 2018, NBC Sports Digital also grew Playmaker Media, its technology backend service, by adding NBC News, Formula One, and NESN as clients. It also added six sports passes to NBC Sports Gold, expanding its direct-to-consumer streaming service to 14 sports.

Fueled by NBC Sports’ digital coverage of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Super Bowl LII, NBCSports.com and Yahoo.com set a new sports category record in February with 93 million unique visitors. This marks the most unique visits since August 2016 when comScore’s sports category record was set on the strength of the 2016 Rio Olympics (110 Million).

“Sunday Night Football” achieved its most-streamed season to date. Through 17 games, SNF live streaming has already delivered 11.8 million unique viewers and 1.2 billion minutes, up 76% and 72%, respectively, over last season.

The 2017-18 NHL season (194 games) set digital streaming records in all key metrics delivering a record 4.7 million unique viewers and 753 million minutes, up 80% and 15%, respectively, over the previous season.

Justify’s Triple Crown horse racing victory set streaming records in all key metrics, delivering 653,000 unique viewers and 21 million minutes, up 26% and 125%, respectively, vs. American Pharoah’s Triple Crown in 2015, making it the most-streamed Triple Crown in history.

Live streaming of the 2018 Notre Dame Football season totaled 768,000 unique viewers and 53.4 million minutes, up 52% and 54%, respectively, over 2017, the most for a Notre Dame Football season on record.

Across NBC Sports digital platforms, NASCAR saw its best season ever, finishing with 1.2 million unique viewers and 151 million minutes, up 11% and 14%, respectively, over 2017.

Golf Channel had its best year ever for live streaming, short-form video, monthly unique viewers, and page views – which crossed the one billion page views annual mark for the first time ever. In total, Golf Channel’s digital properties delivered a record 4.5 million unique viewers and 645 million live minutes, up 62% and 60%, respectively, over 2017.

The 2017-18 Premier League Season (230 matches) set records with four million unique viewers, up 35% from the previous season. In calendar 2018, the Premier League earned three of its Top 8 most-streamed matches ever.

Through November, the year was already the most-streamed year in NBC Sports Regional Network history, with 579 million minutes across more than 1,500 MLB, NBA, and NHL games.

Super Bowl LII was the most live-streamed Super Bowl ever and the most-streamed single-game ever among all sports. Fans live streamed 633.7 million minutes of Super Bowl Sunday coverage across 6.1 million unique devices, up 185% and 112%, respectively, from NBC Sports’ last Super Bowl live stream in February 2015.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics delivered 1.86 billion live minutes and was consumed across 32.8 million unique devices. It supported an Average Minute Audience of 211,000 viewers for the primetime presentation of the Games across 10 different platforms. The PyeongChang Winter Olympics delivered more than four times the live minutes of the Sochi Games (420 million minutes).

Telemundo’s Spanish-language live streaming coverage of the FIFA World Cup delivered 1.96 billion minutes and reached 15.5 million unique viewers, generating a record-setting 130 million live streams.

FuboTV Approaching 250,000 Paid Subscribers

Live TV streaming service FuboTV approached 250,000 paid subscribers in September, more than double the 100,000 subscribers it had a year ago, according to the company.

FuboTV users on average spent 51 hours per month in the app last month, up from 11 hours in September 2017, the company reported. Also, the average revenue per user hit $40 in September 2018 versus $22 in the same month last year.

“What our team of less than 150 employees has built — from the ground, up, despite our competition having access to tens of thousands of engineers alone — impresses me every day, and it should put the streaming TV industry on notice,” said David Gandler, FuboTV co-founder and CEO in a statement. “Our September results and year-over-year growth are proof of our success. We have and will continue to deliver the most optimal quality experience for our customers and strong value to our investors, as we take the company to the next level.”

Amazon Announces Fire TV Recast DVR for Recording Over-the-Air TV

Amazon has announced Fire TV Recast, a DVR that lets consumers watch, record, and replay free over-the-air TV programming on Fire TV, Echo Show, and on compatible Fire tablet, iOS and Android devices.

Consumers can connect Fire TV Recast to a HDTV antenna (sold separately) for access to free over-the-air TV content, such as live shows, local news, and sports, and from channels such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW with no monthly fees.

“We are focused on making Fire TV an easy way to watch all the entertainment you love, whether it’s through streaming video services, cable and satellite providers, or even local broadcast stations,” said Marc Whitten, VP of Amazon Fire TV, in a statement. “Now with Fire TV Recast, we’ve made it simpler to find, watch, and record live over-the-air TV at home and on your mobile devices.”

Consumers can place Fire TV Recast and a HDTV antenna anywhere in their home, and all compatible devices will automatically connect, giving them access to local over-the-air TV programming, according to Amazon. Fire TV Recast allows consumers to record up to four shows at once, and stream to any two compatible devices at a time, according to the company.

“Advanced wireless technology automatically optimizes the use of bandwidth on your local network, delivering the best HD picture quality possible — even when streaming across multiple devices in a congested Wi-Fi environment,” according to Amazon.

Consumers can also take over-the-air shows on-the-go by using the Fire TV companion app for Fire TV Recast to watch live and recorded content over Wi-Fi or when connected to a cellular network. Mobile streaming for Fire TV Recast is available on all compatible mobile devices with no extra monthly charges or subscription fees.

Fire TV Recast is available for pre-order in the United States and will begin shipping Nov. 14. It is available in two models: a two–tuner model with 500GB of storage that allows consumers to record up to two shows at once and holds up to 75 hours of HD programming for $229.99, and a four–tuner model with 1TB of storage that allows consumers to record up to four shows at once and holds up to 150 hours of HD programming for $279.99. Consumers soon will be able to expand the built-in storage of their Fire TV Recast by connecting an external hard drive to the USB port on the back of the device, according to Amazon.

Didja Live Broadcast App Expands to Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV

Tech company Didja announced the expansion of its live broadcast TV streaming app, LocalBTV, to streaming devices Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

The Apple TV and Fire TV versions are available now in the app stores, with Roku to follow soon after, according to the company.

LocalBTV is available as a pilot service in the Los Angeles and Orange County area (SoCalBTV), the San Francisco area (BayAreaBTV) and the Phoenix area (PhoenixBTV), providing a pilot channel list of 30-40 channels of local broadcast TV to viewers on smartphones, PCs and connected TVs at no cost to consumers or to broadcasters, according to a Didja press release.

“With TV stations’ broadcast streams available on mobile devices and connected TVs via LocalBTV, even non-antenna households can easily enjoy local broadcast news and entertainment programming anywhere in the television market,” according to the Didja release. “In addition, local stations and independent channels not available through cable providers or streaming services can now be seen by wider audiences.”

“Didja allows us to stream to devices in an app that contains other local channels. This makes LocalBTV more valuable to the viewer than a single-source app,” said Lynn Londen, owner of Phoenix independent station KAZT, in a statement. “I love seeing people’s enthusiasm when I show them our channels on my phone, and we are looking forward to reaching even more viewers via streaming TV apps.”

According to Didja, more than 20 million U.S. homes watch TV via an antenna and approximately another 10 million homes have no convenient way to watch local broadcast TV, meaning they have neither a traditional cable bundle nor an antenna.

“This expansion to Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV will allow viewers to watch our broadcast partners’ local channels on connected TVs, which is where more and more TV viewing is taking place,” said Jim Long, CEO of Didja, in a statement. “It’s the next logical step as we pursue our mission to help local broadcasters serve their communities, even while TV viewing moves to screens of all sizes.”

The LocalBTV app is available from iTunes, Google Play and on Apple TV and Fire TV.

Irdeto Data Finds Nearly 5 Million Illegal Streamers During UEFA Champions League Knockout Stages

As the football world gears up for the showdown between Liverpool and Real Madrid in this weekend’s UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League Final, data from Irdeto reveals that a total of 5,100 unique illegal streams were detected redistributing games over the internet during this year’s Champions League knockout stages. Of this total, 2,093 streams were detected across social media channels including Periscope, Facebook and Twitch and are estimated to have reached nearly 5 million (4,893,902) viewers.

“The viewing figures combined with the number of UEFA Champions League streams detected across a variety of channels suggests that more needs to be done to stop the illegal distribution of high profile live European football matches,” according to an Irdeto release.

Web-based streams continue to be the main vehicle for illegal distribution of these matches, with 2,121 web-based streams detected (of the total 5,100 streams), according to the Irdeto data. However, this was closely followed by social media, where potential advertising revenue drives criminals to illegally stream premium sports.

Pirates also took advantage of illicit streaming plugins for Kodi, the popular media player, with 886 streams identified on this platform, according to Irdeto.

“Criminals have targeted premium sports content such as the European Champions League and are earning a fortune from stealing the rights,” said Rory O’Connor, SVP of cybersecurity services at Irdeto. “This makes it crucial for content owners, rights holders and platform owners to work together and enlist technology and proactive services to take down streams in real-time. The criminals who profit from these illegal streams have little regard for their viewers and are exposing them to cybercrime, inappropriate content and malware infection. Also, viewers of illegal content can face criminal penalties if they decide to share content with friends on social media.”

Pirates create professional-looking websites and services designed to fool consumers into thinking they are viewing legitimate content, according to Irdeto. In the case of the Champions League, the team most targeted by illegal streamers was Roma, with 1,476 streams detected for their matches. This was followed by Real Madrid (1,354 streams), Liverpool (1,252 streams) and Bayern Munich (977 streams). The second leg semi-final Roma vs. Liverpool was the most-streamed match, with 405 illegal streams, representing a potential loss of revenue to clubs and the competition.

The viewership of illegal streams on social media followed a similar pattern. However, Real Madrid was the most viewed team, with 2,856,011 viewers of illegal social media streams of their games throughout the knock-out competition. The most illegally viewed match through social media streams was the Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich Semi-Final second leg, which received an estimated 709,393 viewers. Based on the average Pay TV subscription prices in Europe this could represent a loss of more than 14 million Euros per month or 170 million Euros on an annual basis.